Curricular Conceptual Framework

The School of Nursing’s conceptual frameworks, undergraduate and graduate, are guided by the mission of PLU and the mission of the School of Nursing. PLU seeks to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care–for other people, for their communities, and the earth. The School of Nursing faculty members fully embrace these concepts and further hold beliefs about nursing, persons, environment, and health which direct the development of programs and guide the educational process.

The curricula emerge from the School’s mission and philosophy, the faculty’s beliefs and values, and an examination of the current and future trends in nursing. The cornerstone of the frameworks is the metaparadigm of the profession–nursing, person, environment, and health.

PLU and the Metaparadigm of Nursing


Nursing is an art, a humanistic science, and an intellectual discipline of informed caring (Swanson, 1993). Informed caring represents the essence of nursing by reflecting caring as a nurturing way of relating to others toward whom one has a professional commitment and by unifying the diverse knowledge, skills, and processes of nursing into an integrated whole. In the context of “informed caring for the well-being of others” (Swanson, 1993, p. 352), nursing exists as a profession that directs its diverse, integrated elements in a person-centered manner toward assisting persons to achieve health, quality of life, well-being, and/or quality of death.


Person represents the client–the central focus of informed caring–and may be an individual, family, community, population, or system. Person includes spiritual, cultural, social, psychological, and bio-physical dimensions. These dimensions are brought by person into any interaction. Person is not only at the center of care, but is also recognized “as the source of control and full partner in providing compassionate and coordinated care” (QSEN, 2011).


Environment is local and global and includes, but is not limited to, physical, psychological, cultural, financial, regulatory, technological, and political elements. Environment directly affects a person’s health, health-related behaviors, and overall well-being. The nurse’s concept of environment provides the structure for understanding the impact of multidimensional external elements on person. To facilitate an environment that is conducive to optimum health, the nurse must understand how individual and family relationships, values and beliefs about one’s culture, and resources available within the home and community shape environment as well as one’s actual physical living space. The culture of the practice environment–whether inpatient, outpatient, or in-home–is complex and creates the need for inter-professional collaboration and collaboration with person in order to optimize management of each person’s needs within a cost-effective framework. Through the educational experience, it is essential for the nurse to grasp how the dynamic interaction of environmental factors affects health outcomes.


The word “health” derives from the word “whole.” Health is reflective of the multidimensional nature of persons. The harmonious interconnectedness of the dimensions of person is necessary to achieve health and well-being. Health and well-being are defined by persons with those definitions being influenced by the constructs of the society and culture in which they live. All persons have the right to access health care and to participate fully in decisions affecting their health, quality of life, well-being, and/or quality of death. Persons have significant impact on their health through their life choices. Supporting the optimal health of persons includes disease prevention and promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors, regardless of clinical diagnosis.

PLU’s Undergraduate Conceptual Framework

At the baccalaureate level, the professional relationship between person and nurse is the health interaction. The nurse interacts as a facilitator or collaborative leader with person in four professional roles: (1) provider of direct/indirect care; (2) designer, manager and coordinator of safe, quality care; (3) inter-professional collaborator; and (4) professional. The health interaction is nested in the context of informed caring and defined by an ethical decision-making framework that respects diverse values and beliefs and incorporates moral concepts, advocacy, professional ethics and law. Nursing uses a facilitative or collaborative leadership process to assist persons in the promotion and maintenance of health behaviors, health restoration, and the prevention and management of disease. Leadership is enacted by a willingness to identify and act on complex problems in an ethical, person-centered manner. Nursing knowledge and practice are derived from empirical, personal, aesthetic and ethical ways of knowing. Nursing is built on a strong liberal arts foundation, professional values, clinical competency, evidence-based practice, information management, leadership, and professional service. These dimensions are brought by the nurse into any situation. The goal of the health interaction between nurse and person is to support the persons movement toward optimum health, quality of life, well-being, and/or quality of death.

PLU’s Graduate Framework

At the graduate level, the nurse builds on the baccalaureate foundation by using higher level thinking and conceptualization skills to lead and implement systems change. Master’s-prepared nurses are prepared to lead change by using nursing and related sciences, research evidence, inter-professional collaboration, and informatics/healthcare technologies to design effective person-centered care. Master’s -prepared nurses use integration of scientific evidence in more complex ways to optimize health among persons, whether person represents an individual, family, community, population, or system (which includes the complex dimensions of policy, finance, organizational structure, and information management). The professional relationship between nurse and person is transformational leadership as the nurse interacts with person in four advanced professional roles: (1) provider of direct/indirect complex care; (2) designer, manager and/or coordinator of systems; (3) inter-professional collaborator; and (4) contributor to the profession. Transformational leadership involves advocating for, implementing, and evaluating change toward the goal of quality improvement by creating and promoting an environment in which person is challenged and supported in envisioning possibilities and transforming shared vision into reality. Through transformational leadership, the nurse values the contribution of each person to the delivery of care and motivates individual and system change by exemplifying behaviors which influence positive outcomes and develop intrinsic quality improvement. The nurse also contributes to a culture of advocacy and safety by establishing an environment of open communication.

Feel free to contact the School of Nursing at any time with your questions or comments.